عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction and statement of the problem: Using social networks as a modern marketing and advertising tool has been predominant in recent years. The use of social media has changed the traditional business models becoming an ideal channel for doing business and telecommunication interactions. The rise of social networks has created opportunities and challenges for businesses and for the development of commercial relations as they improve business performance and benefit while creating challenges. According to Alexa, telegrams and Instagram social networking sites are most popular ones. Due to significant growth of distance sale, marketing and advertising companies in the telegram channels and Instagram pages, a question arises here as to what opportunities and challenges are for businesses using social networks? Because of the existence of various cultural and environmental factors in different countries, opportunities, and challenges in each country is different. This is also the case in Iran as not much research has been done in this area in Iran. Here we identify and evaluate opportunities and challenges of using social media in businesses in Iran.
Theoretical background: Today, social media is an important tool for managers and companies that use it, as they contribute to the creation of opportunities and new businesses by increasing their selling opportunities and revenue. Social networking allows individuals to create and publish a profile, create a list of other users with whom they share a connection, control that list, and monitor similar lists made by other users. Many businesses use the social media to engage in connection with their customers, to publicize their brand and to increase the word of mouth marketing. Businesses should consider each countries’ several aspects such as their economic, socio-cultural, environmental, as well as their technological environment. This will help them having a good understating of the role of social media in any business activity, as well as the role of government in the use of social media that can help them create opportunities and challenges.
Methodology: Our research methodological approach was to use a mixed method, meaning to use both qualitative as well as quantitative research methods. First, we used in-depth interviews with 11 marketing and entrepreneurial experts who had business in social networks and were selected using judgment sampling method, we identified opportunities and challenges through content analysis. Then we used quantitative method for evaluation of the results using a questionnaire that was distributed among 390 samples who were active at least 2 years in social media business. These people were selected through snowball sampling. Finally, we collected the necessary date and analyzed them using the binomial tests.
Findings: Some of the results show that factors such as collaboration and two-way communication with customers, word of mouth, guerrilla marketing, branding, economic, socio-cultural, technology-related as opportunities, and political factors, uncontrollability of the messages, and audience limitations construct the set of challenges. Accordingly, the research results suggest managers to use traditional methods of exact definition of the target market, use new tools such as social networks in order to help their firms to reap the benefit of social media networks. The use of secure social networks help managers identify customers so that firms can use the customers' comments, which, by the way, can help them minimize the impacts of negative, or irrelevant comments that can damage the brand's image in the minds of the consumers. With an accurate planning in this area, customers are encouraged to express their needs and provide useful and constructive comments, so that the necessary feedback can be presented and possible errors can be corrected.